By Eric Tataw and Mbarga Abega – Tuesday January 29, 2019.
Claiming to have won the October 7, 2018 Presidential Election in Cameroon, Maurice Kamto, the leader of Cameroon’s main opposition party, Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) arrested the night of Monday January 28, 2019 by the country’s police in Douala has been blocked from seeing sympathizers and eleven lawyers who visited a detention facility where he’s being held.
The party’s third Vice President, who’s also the party’s Advocate, Barrister Emmanuel Simh told National Telegraph early Tuesday morning January 29, 2019, he was on his way to a police station in the country’s capital, Yaoundé to see the detained CRM Chair.
Minutes later, on a telephone interview with National Telegraph’s Eric Tataw, Simh confirmed Kamto is held at the headquarters of the Judicial Police in Elig-Essono in the nation’s capital, Yaoundé. Barrister Emmanuel Simh while telling National Telegraph, Kamto is accused of insurrection and destruction of property, he expressed disappointment that all Eleven (11) Lawyers who went to see him were denied access.
Simh described the move as dictatorial and a blow to Cameroon’s already fragile democracy. The Advocate also announced the party’s National Directorate would meet in Yaoundé for an emergency meeting and if possible, issue another communiqué, Simh told National Telegraph.
On Saturday January 26, 2019, at the behest of Kamto, Cameroonians observed peaceful demonstrations in Douala, Yaoundé, Bafoussam and in other cities, denouncing what they term Electoral Holdup. Abroad, many Cameroonians who were protesting invaded Cameroon Embassies in France, Belgium, Britain and Germany causing material damages.
The October 7 Elections through which incumbent, Paul Biya was proclaimed the winner has been highly contested. Kamto had challenged the results at the country’s Constitutional Council where the Council’s ruling was considered by many Cameroonians as jaundiced. Kamto believed the Electoral Commission imputed figures to favour the incumbent especially as elections were boycotted in the North West and South West Regions buried in an armed conflict.
Prof Maurice Kamato, his closest party aids and allies, Christain Penda Ekoka, Albert Dzongang and several other party activists were arrested at about 9:30 PM, Monday, January 28, 2019, at Albert Dzongang’s Residence situated at Mobile Guinness neighborhood, of Douala III Sub-division, Wouri Division in Cameroon’s Littoral Region, National Telegraph has been told.
Locals confirmed that the residence had been surrounded by water cannon of the Cameroon Police for several hours before the arrest of Maurice Kamto and Co, which met stiff resistance from youths and sympathizers of the party. Undisclosed casualties were reportedly recorded as police fought the determined crowd to arrest CRM party leaders, National Telegraph learned.
After been held under house arrest and in the Judiciary Police in Douala with Albert Ndzongang and dozens of CRM militants, Maurice Kamto and his confidents have been ushered into Yaoundé, a local source told National Telegraph.
Agbor Balla, a Human Rights Lawyer confirmed the arrest to National Telegraph; “The President of the Movement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun (MRC) known in English as the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM); a political party in Cameroon, Prof Maurice Kamto has been arrested”. Kamto was part of the defense team of The Anglophone Consortium leaders and one of the designated lawyers that defended Agbor Balla and others during their bail application at the military court.
Celestine Djamen who was admitted at the surgical ward of the Douala General Hospital, after police shot him on the leg during the peaceful demonstration of Saturday, January 26, 2019, was equally arrested from his hospital bed, family sources and the CRM party told National Telegraph.
The waves of arrest in Douala followed few hours after Professor Alain Fogué, the CRM party National Treasurer had been arrested and placed in custody at the Judicial Police in Yaoundé, on same charges of insurrection and destruction of property, the party said in an official statement.
On Saturday January 26, other party bigwigs like Paul Eric Kingue, a former mayor, who served as Campaign Manager for the Party during the disputed October 7, 2018 presidential elections were arrested alongside musician, famous youth activist, Gaston Serval Abe (Valsero) together with several party supporters, in the towns of Mbouda and Bafoussam, in Cameroon’s West Region. Several protesters were reportedly shot by police, including Michele Ndoki, a famous female lawyer.
Reacting to this wave of arrests, the CRM party in an official dispatch has qualified it as an attempt to decapitate the winning coalition of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement Party, calling for calm from militants and demanding the immediate and unconstitutional release of all arrested, including its National President, Maurice Kamto.
Other political parties in Cameroon
Following this arrest, International NGO, Amnesty International called on the authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release protesters detained simply for exercising their rights to peaceful protest at the weekend. No one should face arrest simply for speaking out”, National Telegraph read from an Amnesty International release.